Bordered by farmland in Northwest Indiana, Hobart is a city with a beautiful setting on the shores of Lake George.
Walkable downtown Hobart is edged by Lakefront Park so you can go to the waterfront for a stroll after browsing the shops and getting something to eat.
There’s often something going on in Hobart in the summer, when Festival Park, also on the water, hosts regular outdoor gatherings like a farmers’ market, live music and outdoor movies.
Within a mile or two of downtown Hobart, things become pretty rural, and there’s a choice of U-Pick farms, as well as a visitable bison farm minutes away.
1. Deep River County Park
In the southeast of Hobart, the 1,362-acre Deep River County Park is set across several units either side of U.S. Highway 30.
Something fascinating awaiting you here is Wood’s Historic Grist Mill, constructed in 1837-38 and representing the first settlement industry in Lake County. May to October you can visit to see cornmeal being ground by the large millstones.
Next door is the Deep River Visitor Center, housed in a church dating back to 1904. Another summer attraction is the Deep River Grinders baseball team, which we’ll talk about below.
Finally, the Deep River Water Park, open Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, is one of the largest public water parks in the United States.
2. Lakefront Park
Hobart has put a lot of love into this waterfront park over the years, renovating the walkway that meanders around the east shore of Lake George. This could be the prettiest spot in the area, especially when the sun goes down over the lake.
Lakefront Park is right next to the public library downtown, and you can linger for a while at the little pier with a gazebo and benches.
If you’re coming for a meal in Hobart then Lakefront Park could be the ideal destination for a restorative stroll. At the north end, a covered bridge leads to Festival Park, where many of Hobart’s outdoor events take place.
3. Downtown Hobart
At the intersection of Main Street and 3rd Street, downtown Hobart packs a lot of life into a small area. With rows of old brick storefronts, this is a great place to experience on foot.
Nothing is more than a block or two, and all along Main Street are vintage street lights with hanging flower baskets, and benches where you can sit and watch life in this small town unfold.
Main Street has an eclectic lineup of small businesses any downtown would be proud of, with a record shop, coin dealer, used book shop, video game store and a craft supply store.
Here and there you’ve got a surprising diversity of restaurants for breakfast food (Cafe 339), Mexican (El Capitan), Caribbean (Montego Bay Grille), Gyros (Brickies) and contemporary American (Granger’s at the Tower), while The Librarium Cafe is a delightful board game cafe.
4. Festival Park
An easy walk, just across the dam from downtown Hobart, Festival Park is a scenic gathering for the city. As the name tells you this is the scene for a steady flow of festivals and outdoor events all summer long.
A big one is the Lakefront Festival in August, while the Summer Market on the Lake every Thursday coincides with a summer concert series at the bandshell.
Also on Thursdays, in June and July there’s Movies in the Park, showing new and classic family favorites.
Among its other features, Festival Park has a boat dock, canoe launch, a covered bridge at the dam, lakeside fishing spots, several picnic areas, a playground and community center.
5. Indiana Dunes National Park (Hobart Prairie Grove)
On the southwest shore of Lake George is a section of the Indiana Dunes National Park, which encompasses 15,350 acres on or near the shore of Lake Michigan.
An isolated tract of 300 acres, the Hobart Prairie Grove is a biodiverse area of forested ravines, with a majestic vantage point over the lake.
More than 340 native plant species have been identified at this preserve, and this has a lot to do with the unique soil, made up of 70% silt and clay.
You can traverse Hobart Prairie Grove on a 1.1-mile trail. You can get there from downtown Hobart without a car via the Oak Savannah Trail. This path is nine miles long and passes just south of downtown, with two miles in the care of the National Park Service.
6. County Line Orchard
One of the joys of having giant sweeps of Midwestern countryside in your backyard is attractions like County Line Orchard. In the harvest season, this farm combines U-Pick with entertainment, great food and family-oriented fun.
There are more than 30 apples, as well as sunflowers and pumpkins. An interesting sight are the bee yurts where you can look right into the hive.
Then you’ve got a corn maze, a kids’ farm, a stage for live music and the Moo Choo ride, for a scenic tour of the orchard.
You can pick up a unique handmade something special at the Gift Loft, and there’s delicious seasonal food and drink throughout, including the famous pumpkin and apple donuts at the bakery.
7. Art Theatre
A fine sight on Main Street is this Art Deco theater from 1941. Initially a cinema, the Art Theatre is a multifaceted performing arts venue, for live music, comedy, movie screenings and special events.
The 400-seat auditorium has a state-of-the-art soundsystem, and the venue tends to book bands and artists from the hard rock and metal scenes.
Some well-known acts to play the Art Theatre include Insane Clown Posse, Omar Apollo and Riff Raff, while comedians Chris Kattan, Tim Meadows and Christopher Titus have all taken the stage.
8. Johnson’s Farm Produce
Another great agritourism spot in Hobart is this farm mixing a garden center, U-Pick, a farm market and family activities into one attraction.
Open spring through fall, Johnson’s Farm Produce has vast fields for picking strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and more, and you can check what’s in season on the website.
The season gets underway at the garden center, with a huge selection of annuals and perennials and garden accessories.
And if you value food provenance, then you’ll be pleased to know that the farm market is stocked with produce grown right on the farm, and free of GMO.
To coincide with the picking season, Johnson’s Farm hosts Fun Farm Weekends, with all kinds of activities including hayrides, pedal carts, a petting farm and duck races, to name a small few.
9. Summer Market on the Lake
An annual tradition for well over a decade now is this waterfront farmers’ market at Festival Park. June through August on Thursdays, 4-9 pm, there’s a slew of vendors and a party atmosphere.
Come for fresh produce, plants, flowers, baked goods, gourmet and ethnic ingredients, cosmetics and a wide choice of handmade crafts.
For prepared food you can choose from nachos, pretzels, kettle corn, hot dogs, Italian ice cream and much more, while there’s also a craft beer garden and a children’s craft area.
On top of all that there’s live music at the bandshell each week, with a lineup posted on the city website.
10. Albanese Candy Factory Outlet
A local mini-empire, Albanese Candy is headquartered in Merrillville but opened an enormous factory and outlet store in Hobart in 2004.
This was expanded as recently as 2017 with an investment of $33 million. Celebrated for its gummi bears, the company was founded by Scott Albanese as a humble operation in 1983.
As of today Albanese Candy ships to 41 countries and sells over 300,000 lb of gummi bears every day.
There’s a brief self-guided tour available here, for a sneak peek behind the scenes. The outlet meanwhile has Albanese Candy’s entire range, including special shapes like Army Guys and Gummi Rainforest Frogs, and chocolate treats from Dark Chocolate Mint Meltaways to Milk Chocolate Pecan Patties.
If you’re in luck you may find bags of Gummi Goof-Ups, irregular gummies sold at a discount, but with the same taste.
11. Cressmoor Prairie Nature Preserve
In the north of Hobart is a small but very rare parcel of black-soil prairie, which is very uncommon elsewhere in Indiana.
Exploring Cressmoor Prairie Nature Preserve you’ll get a glimpse of the grassland that confronted early settlers in the Midwest, often rising to eight feet tall.
This is nothing short of spectacular in late summer when the wildflowers are in bloom. The preserve contains no fewer than five insect species and ten plants that are on the threatened list in Indiana.
Monarch butterflies pause here on their long journey south to Mexico’s Central Highlands.
12. Broken Wagon Bison
North America’s largest native land mammal can be found roaming in semi-freedom at this farm in Hobart.
On a tour with Broken Wagon Bison you can picture what the landscape might have been like some 200 years ago, as you find yourself surrounded by a 100-strong herd of bison.
The largest bulls weigh one ton, and if you happen to see the herd breaking into a run you will literally feel the ground shake beneath your feet.
June through September there are two public tours at Broken Wagon Bison, at 11 am and 2 pm. This is also a commercial farm producing grass-fed bison meat, bison leather goods and bison hides.
13. Lakefront Festival
If you had to pick the best time to be in Hobart, it might be the third weekend in August for this action-packed annual bash.
Thursday to Sunday, the Lakefront Festival brings weird and wonderful events like a cardboard & duct tape boat race on Friday, and the dam duck race on Sunday.
This is all accompanied by a raft of live music with three acts per day, as well as food vendors, an arts & crafts area, car shows, tons of children’s activities and a beer garden.
14. Deep River Grinders Baseball
As much a historical reenactment as a showcase of sporting prowess, the Deep River Grinders are a baseball team playing by the original 37 rules of 1858.
May to October the Grinders play their home games on Sundays at Deep River County Park, against other teams with evocative names, like Elkhart Railroaders and Dayton Clodbusters.
Grinder Field often gets crowds of more than 200, and what attracts people is the sportsmanship and spirit of the game.
Some of the differences between this baseball and the modern game are no balls or strikes and that the shortstop (rover) can play anywhere on the field.
15. Team Combat Hobart
The premier tactical laser tag attraction in Northwest Indiana can be found here in Hobart. The term “laser tag” doesn’t do Team Combat justice, as it employs a system utilized by the Army National Guard, SWAT teams, the US Navy and the Drug Enforcement Agency.
So while this isn’t an everyday laser tag experience, it’s still an activity that can be enjoyed by all, with very little experience and no real athletic skills required.
As well as military-grade equipment, Team Combat offers six different objective-based missions and a highly-immersive environment with interactive props and integrated sound and lighting.
Sessions last for 40 minutes, with four rounds of six-minute missions, with teams accompanied by battletechs for strategic advice and guidance.